Chain of Love finishes 10th in career-capping Breeders' Cup bid
Chain of Love
Last year, Japan’s dramatic performance in the two-day, 14-race Breeders’ Cup gala at Delmar dropped jaws as the seven-horse team captured two of the six races contested and gave Japan’s horsemen their first BC victories.
It was a hard act to follow, and the only love for Japan this year at Keeneland proved to be found only in the name of the country’s sole representative - Chain of Love. The first entrant by Japan in the Filly and Mare Sprint, the 5-year-old daughter of Heart’s Cry, despite a brave effort, managed only a 10th-place finish in a field of 12.
Chain of Love, trained by Michihiro Ogasa and owned and bred by North Hills’ Koji Maeda, was being given the last race of her career. The mare had had little success until late last year. She’d gone in to the first two filly classics with a best G3 second place and posted 11-6. After lackluster results in the following nine starts, she was switched to dirt and, from there, started to shine.
After finishing first and third in two starts at Nakayama, Chain of Love was off to Saudi Arabia in February of this year. She finished third in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3, 1,200 meters), then posted a fourth at Meydan in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1, 1,200). Back in Japan, she was given two open-class sprints over 6-7 furlongs at the left-handed Chukyo course and posted 3-1. Two months later, she arrived in Lexington, Kentucky, 9 days before her Breeders’ Cup bid.
On raceday, Saturday, Nov. 5, Chain of Love was looking “mentally and physically in good shape,” according to Ogasa. Paired with new partner William Buick in the day’s third race, the first of the Breeders’ Cup nine events that day, the chestnut mare broke well from the No. 6 gate just before noon (local time) and moved into position keeping abreast of the brisk pace.
She kept up, battling bravely through the clouds of red dust, but was never better than midfield and never able to get closer than about 5 lengths off the top. Eventually she finished just a little more than 2 lengths from the rear.
Winning was race favorite Goodnight Olive by 2 1/2 lengths under regular rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. Trained by Chad Brown, Goodnight Olive, by Ghostzapper, extended her winning streak to six in capturing the Filly and Mare Sprint and clocked 1 minute 21.61 seconds over the 1,400 meters of fast dirt.
In second and third place were two Steven Asmussen-trained runners. Echo Zulu, ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr. finished in second place a length ahead of stablemate Wicked Halo in third under Tyler Gaffalione. Last year’s winner Ce Ce, forced to rally wide in the stretch, finished in fourth place 1 1/2 lengths later.
Chain of Love’s rider William Buick expressed his satisfaction with the mare’s performance. “Right after the start, she moved on her own and was able to get a good position and she tried really hard to the very end.
“But, the clay of the American dirt surface was very different from what she has experienced in Japan and Saudi Arabia and I think the kickback figured largely in the outcome.”
Chain of Love’s trainer Ogasa, based at Miho and fielding his first horse in the Breeders’ Cup, took the loss well and used the opportunity to express his gratitude to those who had helped along the way. “The 10th-place finish is unfortunate, but she was able to go into the race without mishap thanks to the help of so many people. I think she ran her heart out,” the 51-year-old Osaka native said.
“Chain of Love will now be retired and the plan is for her to be a broodmare in the United States,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing some good foals from her.”
Ogasa added, “I’d like to express my deep appreciation to all those involved in this overseas excursion, owner Koji Maeda for bringing us to the Breeders’ Cup, the North Hills team, and all our fans in Japan. Thank you very, very much.”